Clutter-breaking, compelling and relevant creative ads which trigger a change in attitude or behaviour are hard to come by. In fact, a majority of the ads go un-noticed. That is a such a shame – worse than being noticed but disliked, as it takes a lot of effort, time and money to create advertising. Every week, I attempt to share a compilation of such creative ads, aside form views on the business of advertising. with This week’s compilation features lots of festive season ads including ‘Pooja Didi’ for Facebook and Coca-Cola among others.
Facebook: ‘Pooja Didi’
The extended lockdown periods across countries and changed consumer preferences towards eating out or shopping has hit small businesses the most. We have all come across stories of neighbourhood eateries and shops being forced to shut down due to the prevailing situation. There have been a few real-life positive stories too of people coming together to help individuals (especially farmers), charity organisations and small businesses. Social media has played a crucial role in creating awareness and garnering support for such individuals and groups. In India, the story of Babaji Ka Dhaba, a small eatery in New Delhi got a lot of visibility in media around the world. It is said that real life incidents and insights inspires advertising and the best of advertising reflects societal trends.
A new ad for Facebook seems to have been inspired by such incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic and tells an emotional story of someone with a large heart who sets out to help others despite personal setbacks. I loved the simple story, the great script and acting. A riveting watch, even though the film is a tad long.
On social media some have reacted saying that simply seeing the duration (just over 7-minutes) was a put off and could not get past the first few seconds. I too tend to look at the duration first and feel hesitant to watch long-format videos. This could be due to being conditioned by short format content such as tweets and low involvement reactions such as pressing the ‘like’ button. We all have been conditioned to be impatient thanks to social media. Yet, there are intangibles involved. Sometimes, we watch long-duration films and read long copy ads if we find them relevant, compelling. As the ad legend Howard Gossage said in the 1950s, ‘People don’t read ads. They read what interests them. Sometimes, it’s an ad’. In the case of ‘Pooja didi’ the first few seconds created the intrigue for me and then it kept me riveted as the central plot struck a chord. Going by the positive reactions on social media that seems to be the case for most.
However, an important issue needs to be raised and a question asked. There is a strong sentiment against the addictive nature of social media platforms and how they are all driving us to share at mobile screens for hours together in a day. They play a role in us being ‘less connected’ with each other at a personal level even though they aim to ‘connect’ us all. There is also the negative impact of constant bad news, fake news, abusive comments and trolling – not to mention issues on privacy and data sharing. Yet, social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are addictive. Negative associations are common with such platforms and brands may have find it a difficult place to navigate at times. There is no denying that they can be a force of good – the operative word being ‘can’. Social media platforms have played a central role in creating awareness about good causes (remember the ice-bucket challenge for ALS?), effecting changes in attitude, spurring action and have made inspiring content go viral. In a way, they evoke contradictory emotions. But there is a significant number who are consciously avoiding spending too much time on social platforms – initiatives such as digital detox centres and a huge collection of how-to books on how to not fall prey to mobile or social media addiction are proof enough.
Do such ads create a positive feeling toward social media platforms in general and Facebook in particular? If I were to hazard a guess, they are more likely to make those already heavily invested in such platforms feel good about it and see the possibilities of them being a force of good. The skeptics will remain so despite the beautiful story telling.
Birla White: the walls tell a story
Here’s yet another COVID-19 inspired plot anchored on how a single decision to give ‘business’ to others or employ them on a task is not just a mere act of good but can be a life-transforming moment. This festive season, brands have also communicated that shopping triggers a chain reaction as it not just helps one business acquire revenues but many more as seen in the ads from Cadbury’s Celebrations and Philips.
In this ad for Birla White, aside from the acting I loved the way they have found a link to convey that ‘walls tell a story’.
Montreal Children’s Hospital: little brats
Ads featuring kids with ailments can be depressing. Here’s an emotional roller-coaster of a film featuring a little brat fighting leukemia. While it ends on a positive note it is sure to engage every viewer and getting them to wish the very best for the protagonist. Since it is for a foundation the objective it to ‘Help the Children’s get its young patients back on their feet and bursting with energy again’.
Burberry: singing in the rain
Fashion brands, especially the super-premium ones, have little or no product story to tell mostly. The execution, especially styling and visual cues, plays a huge role in creating distinctive advertising. Burberry the iconic British luxury brand known for its unique design elements has released an ad featuring a rendition of the famous song ‘Singing in the rain’. The visual twist is provided by the choreography featuring a set of dancers ‘avoiding’ falling blocks of ice. It makes for compelling viewing, brings a smile, has the product smack bang in the centre and has been given a larger than life twist claiming to be about ‘fearless spirit and imagination when pushing boundaries’.
Production House: RiffRaff Films. Chief Creative Officer: Riccardo Tisci, Burberry Group
However, I am yet to get over the logo change.
NHS: then, now, always
When tasked with a recruitment campaign, the easy way out could have been to simply advertise for the open positions and generate enquiries. But when the advertised brand is NHS in the UK, it is an opportunity to elevate the brief to provide an inspiring reason to join the organisation. The stirring, poetry-style copy and the challenges faced in the everyday life are highlighted in a beautifully crafted ad. The upside of such is that it will attract the right talent – not just any job seeker.
Childline: nobody is normal
Mental wellbeing as a topic has garnered a lot of media visibility of late. Celebrities who suffered from depression hid behind a veneer of ‘normalcy. In this context, focusing on young children and their state of mind is important. Childine, the children-support service of NSPCC has launched a new ad reassuring children that its okay to ‘feel’ different.
Sometimes young people just don’t feel comfortable in their own skin. NSPCC children-support service Childline found that cases of children struggling with body image, sexuality, gender identity and mental health soared during the coronavirus lockdown in the UK. We set out to remind kids that “Nobody is Normal”, with help from Radiohead.
Agency: The Gate
PENNY Weihnachten: Christmas for Everyone
Every year there are several Christmas themed adverts (and feature films – some of which are all-time classics) from big retail, e-commerce brands and others. Since shopping is a big part of the festive season, naturally those brands where people shop from or at and those which enable the process tend to be big advertisers. Retail brands such as John Lewis, Sainsbury’s and others from UK have created landmark campaigns during this season.
The common themes are thoughtful gifting (except when Harvey Nichols created the clutter-breaking ‘Spent it on myself’ campaign), celebrations, do-good acts and such like to evoke the feel-good quotient. This year, dialling up the celebratory feel would not have been appropriate. Some have adopted a product-centric approach focused on cooking while others have anchored the communication on ‘acts of kindness’. Somehow, I did not get goosebumps from any of the Christmas adverts from UK so far this year.
Penny, a supermarket chain in Germany has released this lovely ad which captures the mood of countries during the ongoing pandemic.
Mercedes-Benz Sustainable Mobility: invisible car
While it may sound like an old-fashioned audio visual film reserved for product launches, the visual idea to cue an ‘invisible car’ for a range of all-electric vehicles is bold. Automobile ads usually follow a template showcasing beautiful visuals of the car in motion from various angles. To devote only a few fleeting seconds to the actual product shot is pretty bold.
Unacademy: Cracking the game
The sponsors of Indian Premier League invest huge sums of money in not just associating their logo with the event or with a team but also in milking that investment through more umm…investments in advertising. The ROI of such investments and the metrics a brand would use to measure success would vary. For example, businesses based on apps such as Dream11 or CRED could rely on increase in downloads. But mere downloads aren’t everything. Converting those who download an app into paying customers or figuring out other ways of monetisation could also be important. Unacademy, an ed-tech venture was one of the sponsors. They have now released an ad post the event linking highlights from the tournament to some sort of learning.
Agency: Lowe Lintas
Volvo XC40: cyclist, runner, pedestrian
Cyclist, runner and pedestrian detection are features in Volvo’s XC40. A set of ads start of in what seem like high praise for the car but turn out to be descriptions or tributes to those three using the roads, which ‘belong to you’ says the VO. Loved it.
Agency: Forsman & Bodenfors, Sweden
McDonald’s: inner child
There are certain product categories whose core consumers outgrow the brand. End users of LEGO toys, Barbie dolls and fans of serials move on to other obsessions as they grow. While newer consumers enter the category its hard to get back the ones who have ‘moved on’ as they may find the product ‘too kiddy’ for them. In an interesting strategy to attract teenagers, McDonald’s UK is urging them to listen to their inner child.
I could empathise with the protagonist as many in that in-between age group feel awkward to ‘behave like a child’ yet aren’t ‘grown ups’ yet. Lovely insight and execution.
Agency: Leo Burnett
TESCO: naughty list
Many consider 2020 to be an extraordinary year where ‘anything’ can happen -we’ve all seen memes and jokes around how bad the year has been. People are tired of bad news and its not surprising that in a survey three-quarters said they wanted to see light-hearted content in this year’s Christmas ads. A new ad for TESCO delivers just that where it claims the ‘naughty list’ has been cancelled, even if you forget to sing ‘Happy birthday’ while washing hands.
Agency: BBH London
Coca-Cola: Christmas Commercial 2020
It’s a thin line between silliness and poignant moment when it comes to a carbonated fizzy drink with a message: ‘making time for the ones you love is what makes Christmas truly the most special time of year’. Oscar-Winning filmmaker Taika Waititi (of Jojo Rabbit fame) directs a spot which encourages people to ‘give something only you can give’ – yourself.
Agency: Wieden+Kennedy, London
Which one was your favourite? Do comment in.